Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kale Salad: A Healthy Midnight Refrigerator Snack — No, Really

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 1:25 PM

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So have you guys tried the raw kale salad at Tavern and/or Kayne Prime? It’s a simple salad that you fully expect to be just a fling of a meal, but the next thing you know you are eating it out of the refrigerator at 1 a.m. with a fork, Nigella-style, and dreaming all night about marrying a bowl of kale, an exotic kale honeymoon, and having tons of little kale babies.

This is one of those dishes that makes you realize that every time Tom Colicchio says something on Top Chef about a simple dish often being the best — Antonia’s mussels in the Italian challenge last season come to mind — he isn’t fucking around. It’s even healthy! Kale, a green, leafy vegetable that hails from the cabbage family, has often been touted for its health benefits, and is even more healthy when served chopped and raw.

I am not really into health foods, or even salads so much. But it’s the currants/raisins* that keep me coming back for more: the sudden bursts of sweetness among the bitter-sour-saltiness of the Parmesan-lemon-kale combination in every couple of bites.

Since this salad seemed so uncomplicated, I went to Google to see if I could find something similar. Lo and behold, I did! Our local restaurants made some very smart additions with the currants and pine nuts. And although creating something this simple may not take a genius, you know what is genius? The way Tavern/Kayne cuts the kale. They chop it very finely, to the consistency of tabbouleh, which was very difficult to replicate at home until I tried the food processor (duh). It sounds trivial, but the texture is what makes this salad so easy to eat, and eat, and eat ...

So here is my recipe for an almost-perfected attempt at a similar and slightly-tweaked ...

Raw Kale Salad, à la Tavern/Kayne Prime

- 1 bunch kale (preferably bought from that sweet lady at Hardy’s Produce at the Nashville Farmer’s Market), washed, de-stemmed, and chopped finely to tabbouleh texture
- juice of 1 fresh squeezed lemon (about ⅛ cup)
- ⅛ cup (of your best) olive oil
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan (I like the really fine crumbles because they coat better than the long strip-like grated Parm)
- ½ cup raisins or currants (I prefer the mix of golden/red/black raisins — Sun-Maid makes a pack of them*)
- ¼ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds (I prefer pine nuts)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and black pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil until it is emulsified and drizzle over the washed and chopped kale. Toss to coat all the greens.
2. Sprinkle the grated parmesan over kale and toss to coat.
3. Add in raisins/currants, pine nuts, and red pepper flakes. Toss to distribute throughout.
4. Generously season with salt and black pepper.

Recipe makes about 2 side salads, 1 entree-sized salad. I have been known to sextuple this recipe for parties.

Serve this as a side, entree, or midnight refrigerator snack.

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